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Alfredo Talavera lifts Pumas to second victory of the season

Pumas breaks slump with a 1-0 victory over Santos.

Pumas UNAM v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

With a great performance from goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, Pumas was able to end a four game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Santos. It was only Pumas second victory in the season, and while it might not have been deserved against a Santos team that was superior, it was a great result that gives a glimmer of hope to Pumas fans after an incredible slump. Pumas will remain at home for a tough matchup against a Cruz Azul team that sits in first place and will be eager for revenge, while Santos returns home to face Necaxa in a match they will be heavily favored.

Pumas started the first half with the end of the experiment of Johan Vasquez as left back, as Jeronimo Rodriguez returned to the position and Luis Quintana got benched so Vasquez could play at center back. A minute in Santos came close with a shot by Juan Otero that went just wide. Pumas responded almost immediately, and Juan Ignacio Dinenno had an almost similar situation when a shot from outside the area also went inches wide. Facundo Waller later had a shot from outside the area that was easily saved by Santos’ keeper Carlos Acevedo. Pumas wasted a great chance when a pass by Carlos Gutierrez found Gabriel Torres, but his shot went wide. Later it was Juan Pablo Vigon who got a ball in the area but his shot went wide. In what could be a candidate for the best save of the season, Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre got diving header that Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera was able to make an incredible close range one handed save on, almost grabbing the ball and sending the rebound to safety. Pumas had a scare when off a cross that referee Jorge Rojas ruled that Johan Vasquez had handled the ball and gave a penalty kick, but he was corrected by AR Jéssica Morales as the play was ruled offside. Then Talavera made another incredible play when a cross off a free kick found Matheus Doria, who header was stopped by Talavera but the rebound fell to Aguirre, who headed the ball but Talavera brilliantly stopped it for his third great save in the match. The halftime whistle blew and Santos had taken control of the match but Talavera had kept the game scoreless.

The second half started and a minute in Santos had the first opportunity when Jesus Isijara got into the area but his shot went wide. Later Fernando Gorriaran found a ball from outside the area and his left footed shot was saved by Talavera, in another great save. Off a free kick, Santos played the ball back and a shot by Otero was deflected into a goal by Doria but he was correctly ruled to be offside. Pumas made their first move by subbing out Gabriel Torres and Facundo Waller for Favio Alvarez and Angel Garcia. Garcia would have an opportunity after Pumas had a good attack, but his shot was blocked by Santos defense. In the play there seem to be a handball from Isijara off the opening cross, so referee Jorge Rojas went to VAR to check the play and gave Pumas the penalty kick. Juan Ignacio Dinenno took the penalty and with a strong right footed shot scored it past Acevedo for the 1-0 lead. Pumas had been incredibly lucky to get the lead, but it was the right call on Isijara.

Santos tried to respond by subbing out Eduardo Aguirre and Omar Campos for Jesus Ocejo and Andres Ibarguen. Ocejo would almost make an impact when he got a header from a cross, but Talevera made another good save. Pumas came close to scoring when Dinenno got to a longball in the area and got off a shot that forced Acevedo to make a save. Santos had a good opportunity when a cross into the area was cleared by Vasquez from close range. Pumas subbed out an injured Jeronimo Rodriguez and Carlos Gutierrez for Jesus Rivas and Bryan Mendoza. Santos then subbed out Jesus Isijara for Jordan Carrillo. Later Santiago Muñoz had an opportunity but his shot went wide. Pumas made their last move by subbing out Juan Pablo Vigon for Leonel Lopez. The last minutes had Santos pressuring Pumas, and things got worse since it looked like Talavera had gotten injured. Still although Santos tried, Pumas held on and got their second victory of a struggling season.

Once again in the season Pumas struggled mightily and yet behind a heroic game by Alfredo Talavera, they were able to get the victory. Like this past season where Talavera was the MVP of the team, Pumas relied on defense and luck to get their victory. Still Pumas keeps struggling and the team isn’t playing well even with the good result. Pumas will have a tough task at home when they face the leader Cruz Azul, especially with Cruz Azul being eager for revenge after the embarrassing elimination in last season’s semifinal. To make matter worse, Talavera looked to have injured himself and their backup goalkeeper, Julio Gonzalez, is also injured. Santos meanwhile played well and were unlucky to not get a result. Although it’s a disappointing result, they travel back home and will be heavy favorites for their match against Necaxa.